Thursday, July 5, 2005
Saturday, July 7, 2005
A case for ecotourism development in Ghana
By: ARC. EKOW SAMPSON
THE ever increasing opportunities for leisure, coupled with technological advancement in transport and communication, has spurred tremendous growth and improvement in travel and tourism in the last decade.
Notwithstanding the September 11 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Centre in the United States, which temporarily slowed down the growth rate of global tourism, travel and tourism is still a major economic activity and one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the world economy,
In 1985, for example, global expenditure on internal and domestic tourism amounted to $1,800 billion.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, in 1999 international tourism alone accounted for receipts of $445 billion. In 1994, Africa (not including Egypt) received some 18.5 million international arrivals and $5.7 billion in tourism receipts.
Ghana, which is a late starter in tourism development, has also had its fair share in tourism receipts. Statistical data points to a steady increase in the growth of tourism in the country. International tourists’ arrivals had increased from 256,680 in 1993 to 583,821 in 2004.
The contribution of tourism to Ghana’s total export earnings increased form an estimated $205.62 million in 1993 to $649.37 million in 2004.
The total employment in the tourism sector increased from 90,000 in 2000 to 161,517 in 2004 (Direct and Indirect employment).
Tax revenue from hotels and restaurants customer Tax/VAT increased from ¢1.44 billion in 1993 to ¢41.36 billion in 2002 with the number of tourism establishments also increasing tremendously.
The multi-dimensional aspect of tourism and its complex interaction with many other activities on our daily life makes its development and sustainability the responsibility of every citizen in the country.
Instead of just letting tourism happen without some guidance the changing tourism trends in the world demand that politicians, community leaders, the academia, security agencies, economists, social scientists, architects, engineers and doctors, among others, should be tourism minded to guide decision making and proper planning of tourism development.
The definition of tourism is problematic. This is because Mcintosh defines tourism as the sum of phenomena and relationships arising from the interaction of tourists, business, host governments, and host communities in the process of attracting and hosting these tourists and other visitors.
According to Hunziker, tourism is the phenomena which results out of fact of people staying outside their regular home for recreation and not making business.
Another definition, though arbitrary, is the practical definition preferred by international bodies such as the World Tourism Organisation, whereby tourism includes all travel that involves a stay of at least one night, but less than one year, away from home. This therefore includes travel for such purposes as visiting friends or relatives, it is a definition based on the duration rather than the motivation for mobility.
The ideology of sustainability has had significant impact in every field of discipline following the influential Brundtland Report (World Commission on Development and Environment in 1987), which presented a working definition of sustainable development.
The key ideas for sustainable development in the Brundland Report are that Planning and strategy making should not only be holistic, but development should also occur in such a way that productivity can be sustained for future generations. The importance of preserving essential ecological processes, the need to protect both human heritage and bio-diversity, as well as the need for inter-generational social consideration in development should also not be underestimated to facilitate sustainable development.
Within tourism, the ideology of sustainability has had a significant impact, leading to the emergence of a sub-discipline and sustainable tourism. The ideas of sustainable tourism have evolved from two main strands.
The broader concern is linked with the increased awareness of the general environmental consequences of economic development and the second strand was much more specific, relating to perspectives on the impact of mass tourism on the physical, socio-cultural, and economic environments of tourism destination areas.
The successful implementation of the community-based ecotourism destinations throughout the 10 regions of Ghana, throughout the collaborative efforts of NCRC-SNV, Ghana Tourist Board and Peace Corp Ghana, funded by USAID, is a reflection of the ideals of sustainable tourism development.
The project covered ecological sites such as Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary, Bunso Arboretum, Tagbo Falls / Mt. Afadjato, Amedzofe, Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Sirigu Pottery and Arts, Wassa Domama Rock Shrine, Tano Boase Sacred Grove, Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and the Paga Crocodile Pond.
The concept required communities to take advantage of new tourism opportunities through institutional development of Tourism Management Teams (TMTs). The TMTs are the drivers of the day-to day management of the tourism activities and administration of the facilities.
The strategic goal of the project was to reduce rural poverty and increase private sector participation in project destinations over a five-year period. The purpose of the project, among other things, was to create opportunities for rural communities to earn income and create tourism-related jobs through the conservation of local ecosystems and culture.
This was achieved through enhanced capacity at project destinations, and in collaboration with stake holder’s organization, enhanced visitor facilities at project destination. The project also took measures to eliminate environmental and socio-cultural threats to the tourist destination.
The benefits of the community-based ecotourism development, for instance, have been tremendous to the communities involved. Since the implementation of the project, the project communities have experienced significant increases in both visitor days and revenue. The project achieved its overall target of 20,000 visitor days by the end of the first year, closing at 22,590.
At the end of 27 months, the project had achieved 284 per cent of visitor day’s goal with the combined total standing at 56,731 paying visitor days. The project also achieved 113 per cent of the target set revenue generation of US$140,000.00 per year from ecotourism activities at the end of 24 months.
The total revenue generated over the 27-month period stood at US$158,756. The impact of the project to employment generation, rising standard of the living conditions of the local population and many others cannot be overemphasized.
This initiative deserves further encouragement to be promoted by the government and donor agencies toward promotion and development of our rural areas in Ghana.
In terms of sustainable tourism development, the beneficiary communities have been encouraged to conserve animals as attraction and establish protected or conserved reserves and areas to meet tourist demands. Tourism revenue is being used to finance ground repair and site restoration and also improves some of the infrastructural facilities prompted by tourist demand. The communities have been prompted by a programme to protect the attractiveness of location to tourists.
THE country abounds in natural attraction such as national parks and reserves with many species of wildlife and a wide range of vegetation types, good beaches, lakes and rivers, other specific natural features, mountains and general scenic beauty that are undeveloped. These provide a broad base for development of sustainable ecotourism and various types of resorts.
Although Ghana possesses a variety of attractions, their proper development is the key to the success of these features actually being attractive and interesting. Attraction development includes adequate conservation of the features-installation of appropriate visitor facilities, and their continued efficient maintenance and management.
The successful implementation of the community-based ecotourism concept has provided underpinning evidence for all stakeholders, including the communities where the undeveloped attraction site s are located, to strive to develop the remaining attraction sites.
For an effective sustainable tourism development in the country, the government must try to develop the access to and within all these places. The development of the parks and reserves have to be properly programmed by the Wildlife Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relation, the Ghana Tourist Board and other agencies for the desired benefit to be achieved. The infrastructural facilities such as potable water and telecommunication facilities must be extended to these attraction areas.
The institutional and implementation agencies such as the Ghana Tourist Board must be strengthened with adequate resources such as skilled and motivated manpower, vehicles, IT facilities and adequate administrative equipment.
The local communities must be involved in the preparation of community tourism development programmes, properly train community residents to work directly in the tourist facilities and services, provide financial assistance and technical advice to local entrepreneurs to establish tourism-related enterprises and where possible provide financial assistance and technical advice to local enterprise in the tourism supplying sector, including agriculture, fisheries, crafts production and small-scale industries.
[NB: Are the local communities going to all these?]
The negative effects of tourism such as crime and prostitution, and hassling of tourists must be addressed. Efforts must be directed to control the consumption of and trafficking in drugs through sustained public awareness programmes about its negative effects.
Public education about tourism should include the importance of maintaining the trust of tourists by not committing thefts, hassling tourists and tarnishing the good image of Ghana. The police must take prompt action when theft and other crimes are reported.
Prostitution and sex tourism would be counterproductive to the sustainable tourism development that the country seeks to develop based on the tourism development objectives and policy in Ghana.
Through sustained public education programmes, the Ghanaian society could adopt a stronger philosophy that prostitution generates problems and should not be encouraged. Tourists and tour operators could be informed about the policy of the government to discourage prostitution.
Sustainable tourism development implies that the resources for tourism must be conserved, and often enhanced, for both present and continuing future use and enjoyment by residents and visitors.
Tourism development must be compatible with the environment, society and culture of tourism destination. At the same time, the needs of the host population for improved living standards must be met. Moreover, the expectations of tourists must be satisfied in a manner that the destination would continue to attract tourists.
Daily Graphic - Thursday, July 5, 2005 Page: 32
Saturday, July 7, 2005 Page: 7